Race Relations Ambassador to the State Department – Clark Terry, Jazz Great
Clark Terry, born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1920, has a career spanning more than six decades. When Terry was a kid, he made his first horn out of a garden hose, funnel, and piece of pipe. There was no money in his family of ten children to buy a horn. Recognizing his determination, his neighbors collected $ 12.50 to buy him a trumpet at a pawn shop.
At Vashion High School, he learned to play a cornet at the Tom Powell Drum and Bugle Corps and later learned to play the tube trombone. After graduation, Terry’s talent playing the trumpet allowed his fledgling sound to penetrate the local St. Louis music scene, filled at the time with blues, a form that was rapidly evolving into other new Native American music.
In the summer, St. Louis, a hot and humid place by the river and a frozen place in winter, it was the intensely creative atmosphere, no matter the season, that exposed Terry to his first professional taste for swing, bebop, and music. early jazz, they were burning new trails in riverine pubs, smoke-filled nightclubs, alleys, and cellars along the Mississippi River in the 1930s and 1940s. “
During World War II, Clark Terry joined the US Navy and was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Station (1942-1945), where he joined the Navy Band, gained valuable lessons from discipline, developed his practice technique from a clarinet book and understood John Philip Sousa’s Contributions to the American Military Music Convention.
After honorable discharge from the service and for the next several years, Terry worked with Lionel Hampton, Charlie Barnet, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Charlie Ventura, George Hudson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dinah Washington, Ben Webster, Doc Severinsen, Ray Charles, Billy Strayhorn, Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Coleman Hawkins, Zoot Sims, Milt Jackson, Bob Brookmeyer, Jon Faddis, and Dianne Reeves.
However, it was with the Ellington band that Terry became a national musical sensation. Become a connoisseur and creator of upbeat jazz, with which he intended to lift the spirits and spirits of his listeners, Terry’s impeccable taste in note selection and musical phrasing made him famous for his delightful treatment of the traditional performance in their unique musical style. .
Terry’s most prominent position came in 1960 when he was hired by the NBC-TV Orchestra, led by Doc Severenson, on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, making Terry the first African-American musician on NBC’s staff, where for 12 years was a hit with his singing invention, ‘Mumbles’, based on a combination of vocal entrainment and scatting, which he performed to a jazzy musical rhythm. In 1972, when The Tonight Show was moving from New York to Los Angeles, Severenson asked his popular trumpeter to move in with the NBC Orchestra, but Terry declined the offer to move, making the difficult decision to leave The Tonight Show and remain. In New York. where he was requested as a studio musician and popular performer.
Going on to become an international jazz luminary, Terry toured the United States and the world as part of the Norman Granz Jazz at the Philharmonic and became a jazz ambassador for the US Department of State. 1970s. At some point, Terry began experimenting with the flugelhorn and consulting with industry experts on modifying the construction of the instrument’s anatomy to resurrect its faded reputation and reintroduce it as a jazz instrument. Terry then made the flugelhorn his primary instrument, a bold and innovative choice that led to him paying double when he was hired to play both flugelhorn and trumpet on the same show.
Terry performed at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, and Lincoln Center, and toured with the Newport Jazz All Stars, Jazz at the Philharmonic, and New York Pops. He made several recordings with major groups, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Dutch Metropole Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Chicago Jazz Orchestra, Clark Terry’s Big Bad Band, and Clark Terry’s Young Titans of Jazz.
The texts in which Terry wrote about the trumpet and jazz as a form of music are used all over the world. A host of Clark Terry jazz festivals since 2000, he also directs the Clark Terry International Institute for Jazz Studies at Westmar University, runs his own Summer Jazz Big Band Camp, and advises the International Association of Jazz Educators. A bronze statue of Clark Terry graces the St. Louis Walk of Fame along with statues of other musicians, including Chuck Berry, Scott Joplin, Miles Davis, Tina Turner, and hip-hop star Nelly.
Clark Terry, winner of Grammy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy, was inducted into the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991. Much of Terry’s benevolence to help Young trumpeters getting instruments may have been born of their own family’s financial inability to buy an instrument as a child eager to learn to play.